Current affairs

Stricter EU rules against greenwashing

Terms like ‘climate-neutral’, ‘CO2-neutral’ and ‘sustainable’ refer to product or company-related environmental statements that convey a "green" message directly or indirectly through words, graphics, images, symbols or a green colour scheme. To prevent consumers from being influenced by misleading 'green' claims in advertisements, a number of EU directives have been drawn up.

‘Green’ EU-directives

In 2021, the EU Commission published the results of a representative sweep of websites focusing on greenwashing, according to which 42% of the cases investigated were suspected of being false or misleading and therefore possibly in breach of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. These findings have been incorporated into two new EU directives (the so-called EmpCo Directive and the Green Claims Directive), which will significantly restrict advertising companies in the design of their commercial communication. EU directives must be transposed into national law of the member states to be valid. For the EmpCo Directive this is expected to take place in 2026, whereas for the Green Claims Directive no concrete date is given yet.

Standard for environmental advertising

Both directives are intended to create uniform standards for environmental advertising in the EU and ensure greater transparency through extensive information and explanation obligations for environmental claims:

  • Self-created sustainability labels must define the key elements of the certification system on which they are based.
  • Forward-looking environmental statements, such as "climate-neutral by 2040", must be backed up with a detailed implementation plan, including the corresponding allocation of funds.
  • General environmental claims such as "sustainably produced" are no longer permitted; specific claims such as "50% less plastic" must be scientifically proven.
  • "CO2-neutral" advertising based on CO2 compensation is prohibited. It is only possible in relation to the life cycle of the product.

The Green Claims Directive, which is still under discussion, also provides for a costly and time-consuming preliminary inspection and validation of green advertising claims by a new office to be created. Infringements are to be subject to fines. It is advisable to check green advertising statements as they are already now the subject of legal disputes and the courts in the member states are strict in view of the planned EU regulations. Although the directive is not yet transposed into national law, courts are obliged to follow the intentions of the EU legislator. We would be happy to support you in checking your green advertising claims and trademarks. Get in touch with Noelle Wolfs or one of our other trademark attorneys.

Want to know more on this topic?

Contact our expert:

Claudia Meindel

+49 89 890636936



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